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|30th December 2008, 08:22||#16|
My son is also used to travelling. He has already done a Bangalore - Ahmedabad - Bangalore run when he was just 4 months old - to celebrate his first Holi.
Ofcourse my wife also enjoy these drives as much.
If this is under utilizing, it only says that I need to take more holidays. I may have to change profession. In last 3 years and 2 months I hardly remember taking any other transport other than my beloved Adventure. It has been to quite a few places though.
|30th December 2008, 10:33||#17|
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|31st December 2008, 00:01||#18|
A day at Maheshwar - Part 1
Day 4 – 4th October 2008
It was a refreshing morning after a good night’s sleep. And the hospitality at the home stay made for a perfect beginning that was going to be a hectic day.
A brief historical context
Maheshwar (also known as Mahishamati) has a history of more than 5000 years and is located on the banks of holy river Narmada. It has mention in both the Hindu epics – Mahabharata and Ramayana as well as many Puranas. The ancient history of Maheshwar is associated with legendary king Kartavirya Arjun.
As per Tulsi Ramayana Kartavirya Arjun defeated Ravana and had taken him prisoner. This same incident was also shown in the recent serial on Ravana (on Zee TV)
Mahabharata describes Kartavirya Arjun as a great warrior. He had fought in the battle of the battles from the Kauravas side.
As per some Puranic versions, Kartavirya Arjun was a great Haihaya King with 1000 arms. Near his kingdom was the ashram of great sage Jamadagni (father of sage Parashuram). In a fight of principles, Kartavirya Arjun killed Jamadagni and in revenge, Parashuram had killed Kartavirya Arjun and all other Khsatriyas (not 1 but 21 times).
The Jamadagni (and Parashuram) Ashram is some 60 kilometeres from Maheshwar just before Mhow. The Chambal river originates from near the mountain on which the Jamadagni (and Parshuram) Ashram is located.
According to some Budhist texts, Maheshwar was the capital of Avanti (a Janapada) around 6th century BCE.
Coming to recent times, Akbar had conquered Maheshwar in 1601 AD and had started construction of the Ahilya (Maheshwar) fort. It was later conquered by Holkars and remains with Holkars till date. Ahilya Bai Holkar (1767 AD to 1795 AD), the most prominent ruler of the Holkar dynasty (after Malhar Rao Holkar) finished the construction of the present day fort and has been instrumental in building innumerable temples, dharmashalas and other religious structures all over India. Ahilya Bai ruled the whole Malwa region and Maheshwar was the capital of her kingdom.
We had three places on the agenda – Sahastradhara, Fort, and Kartavirya Arjun temple.
We left the guest house at 9:00 am for Sahastradhara. It was some 4-5 kilometers from our home stay and we were to enjoy boating at this place. The road was a beautiful country road. It had cotton plantation on one side and jawar plantation on the other.
Boating at Sahastradhara turned out to be wrong information. However we were treated with a beautiful view of Narmada. After spending some fifteen minutes at Sahastradhara, we left for the fort.
If we were to make any opinion about the beauty of the fort from the main entrance, we would be greatly mistaken
A part of the fort is still for private use by the Holkars. And yet another part has been converted in to a heritage hotel. As a normal visitor you don’t have access to all the parts of the fort. However, you can take special permission to visit some of the reserved areas. If you are staying in the heritage hotel, most of the portions are available for visit anyways.
The photograph below shows the entrance of the palace of Ahilya Bai. Photography was not allowed inside. This palace also serves as the heritage hotel. Inside the palace, there is a life size depiction of Ahilya Bai’s daily darbar at the same place where Ahilya Bai use to have the daily darbar.
My son wondering at one of the cannons inside the fort…
The gate below leads to a beautiful Shiva temple and ghat that Ahilya Bai built for public. They are part of the fort. These sections of the fort have also seen many film shootings including SRK’s Ashoka.
The Shiva temple…
The large courtyard for public gathering…
The Ahilya ghat use to host many cultural events during the reign of Ahilya Bai. This tradition has been nurtured to date. The ghat hosts annual dance and music festival – The Sacred River Celebration. The most recent one concluded on 10th February 2008 and the theme for 2008 festival was Dakshinamukha where the focus was on Carnatic music and South Indian dance styles – Mohiniyattam and Kuchipudi.
The perched out balcony in the picture below is from where, Ahilya Bai (and may be subsequent Holkars) use to enjoy the cultural celebrations.
It was boating time. And the boat was supposed to take us to Sahastradhara. But unfortunately my son decides that he is not enjoying. In the chaos that followed, I missed taking the picture of the beautiful ferry. But nonetheless some pictures of the fort taken from the ferry are most appropriate to describe the beauty of the place.
We were also to visit a sun temple that we couldn’t. Each morning after praying in the Shiva temple, Ahilya Bai will come to this temple for a Surya Namaskar.
To be continued…
|31st December 2008, 14:56||#20|
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Join Date: Jul 2006
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Lovely pics and lots of useful information about the place visited as well. Keep 'em coming.
|31st December 2008, 15:00||#21|
A day at Maheshwar (continued…)
Day 4 – 4th October 2008 (continued)
After fort, the next thing on agenda was Kartavirya Arjun temple. It’s actually a Dattatreya temple. Kartavirya Arjun was a devotee of Dattatreya.
I couldn’t find any documented history for this temple as to when was it constructed, etc. Holkars patronized this temple and did extensive renovation.
The priests in this temple are Pandya Brahmins (from Gujarat) . Holkars brought them to Maheshwar and these brahmins have made Maheshwar their home now. They are the temple care takers.
There are some 14 lamps in the temple, which according to the priests, are burning Akhand for time immemorial. . Some of them can be seen on the wall (and the mirror) in the picture below.
My son had already learned to pose for camera.
Ahilya Bai maintained a personal temple. This temple is situated in the palace (where photography was not allowed). Her personal temple has an impressing collection of Shivalingas collected from Narmada river bed.
The Pandit in the picture below is a very unique person. He, his family and forefathers are the care taker of Ahilya Bai’s personal temple. While we were chatting with him, he swallowed silver Shivalinga (anout 1.5 inches in size). He then informs us that he hasn’t swallowed it but he has just allowed the Shivalinga to take Samadhi in his Kanth (throat). He will eat, drink and will still be able to manage Lord Shiva’s Samadhi in his Kanth. He goes on to tell us that last time he did that, he took out the Shivalinga only after 6 months (after serious insistence from his family). We were like . The obvious question would be – why he did that again? now? I don’t have any explanation but 20 minutes spent with him are still fresh in our memories.
It is said during Ahilya Bai's reign; the priests used to make 1.25 lac Shivalingas out of mud, every day, and after due meditation, use to be devote them to river Narmada. The practice is still followed but in present times only 25000 Shivalingas are made daily.
We were offered Charnamrit which had the powers of more than 2 lacs Shivalingas. It is collected daily from the meditation that is done on the mud Shivalingas and mixed with previous days Charnamrit. That way the power keeps increasing. We never had any such thing in our lives before. I don’t have any words to explain the feeling but we were all kind of spellbound with all that we heard and saw and had.
Maheshwar is extremely popular for Maheshwari Sarees. Weaving has been part of Maheshwar economy from ancient times. The art was revived during Ahilya Bai’s reign. More Recently Richard Holkar (alias Shivaji Rao Holkar) established REHWA societyto re revive the art.
Today, the Maheshwari Sarees are exported as well as are part of many Indian wardrobes. Shopping Maheshwari Sarees was also a surprise that I wanted to gift my Aunt. She has a huge collection of Sarees from all over India (including Maheshwari). But none in my family knew that the Maheshwari Sarees that they buy are actually weaved in this fort.
There are certified shops inside the fort where you can buy the Sarees. The prices are fair (and a lot cheaper then they are available in Ahmedabad). Diwali was near by and it turned out the shopping became an extravaganza. We purchased close to 20 Sarees. Phew.
Kanchan Guest House
As we return to our home stay, home made food was waiting us. This is something that we least expected – to find a guest house that’s almost a home stay in Maheshwar. Kanchan guest house is operated by a gentleman from Indore but he stays at Maheshwar for most of the time. He is a govt. servant. There are not many places to stay in Maheshwar but whatever are there are awesome – the MP State guest house (for economy stay), the heritage hotel (for luxury) and this guest house that offers economy as well as great hospitality.
We left Maheshwar at around 4:00 PM. We were to stay overnight at my uncle’s place in Indore. Indore is some 90 kilometers from Maheshwar.
The country road leading to NH3 from Maheshwar
We had planned to visit Jamadagni (and Parshuram Ashram) but due to lack of time we had to skip it. The roads (it’s evident from the picture above) end up wasting a lot of time.
My uncle met us some 40 kilometers from Indore. He guided us to his place in Indore. Here’s the irony. My uncle has recently retired from PWD. He was Chief Executive Engineer at the time of his retirement. He is extremely sought after resource by the private companies that have won the bid for 4 laning projects. I was cursing the people associated with the 4 laning project for not making enough progress and leaving the road in such a pathetic condition and my uncle turns out to be the project manager for the 150 kilometer stretch from Sendhwa to Indore (including the photograph above).
We had reached Indore at 7:30 pm and retire for the day with warm family gossiping and fun.
To be continued…
|2nd January 2009, 13:50||#23|
|8th January 2009, 10:42||#24|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Jul 2006
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No updates for quite some time ? There was lot of good description and pictures. Please keep 'em coming.
BTW, any insider info on when will the stretch from Sendhwa to Indore will be completed ?
|8th January 2009, 20:08||#25|
The insider information says that the Sendhwa to Indore stretch should be ready by end of 2009. BJP started the project. There is good possibility that it will get completed by that time as BJP won the elections here.
|13th February 2009, 20:20||#26|
Indore - Ujjain
I want to apologize to the folks who were following this travelogue, for leaving it midway for more than a month now.
Day 5 – 5th October 2008
It was a lazy morning. I woke up late. Everyone else had already caught up with the day. My cousin was washing Adventure. I joined him.
Everyone decides they want to include hot Jalebis in the breakfast. And it was me and my cousin to do the duty of getting the Jalebis. As we went out, I used the opportunity to tank up Adventure as well. Did I tell you that Nashik – Indore stretch has not a single good Petrol bunk after Dhule? It would have been a nightmare if not for a full tank at Nashik.
After breakfast there were some anxious moments for me. My uncle and the family weren’t happy at all. We had reached just yesterday evening and were leaving in the morning. They wanted us to stay back at least one more day. However I was finally able to put those anxious moments behind me as good sense prevailed on how the entire itinerary will get delayed if we stay back.
Visiting Ujjain was not on our original plan but a quick look at the map confirmed that going via Ujjain is the right route to take. I was excited about the fact that I would be visiting 2nd Jyotirlinga within a span of just three days. The 60 kilometer drive from Indore to Ujjain was enjoyable to say the least. The tarmac between Indore and Ujjain (though two lane) is the best on the entire Madhya Pradesh stretch that we experienced on this trip (Sendhwa – Indore – Ratlam - Nimach). And not just the tarmac, the air had the spirituality in it or may be it was just my heart.
The camera was not allowed and I never bothered to take pictures. I only had darshan on my mind. And I must say this – the Mahakal temple has certain mystic air around it. We hired a Brahmin like we did in Tryambakeshwar for doing the Abhishek. Of all the 12 Jyotirlingas, Mahakal is the only Jyotirlinga where you, as any other devotee, are allowed right inside the main sanctorum and can bathe Shiva Linga with your own hands. Mahakal Jyotirlinga is the only Dakshinmurti Jyotirlinga and is revered by practicing tantriks.
The city of Ujjain is one of the relics of Old Indian Empires, Indian Culture, and Indian History. And I was least prepared for it. I have decided to visit the city again with at least 3-4 weeks in hand to explore.
In local beliefs, the visit to Mahakal temple is considered incomplete without a visit to Kal Bhairava temple. Kal Bhairava is considered to be the Dwar Paal of the Ujjain city in Lord Shiva’s manifestation.
The beautiful view of river Kshipra, as we were leaving Ujjain
To be continued…
|14th February 2009, 03:06||#28|
Ujjain – Ajmer
Day 5 – 5th October 2008 (continued)
Route: Ujjain – Ratlam – Mandsaur – Nimach – Chittaur – Ajmer
My uncle had already warned us about the bad roads on 300 kilometer stretch of Ujjain – Chittaur. It was 2:40 pm when we left Ujjain. Our destination for the day was Ajmer.
For initial few kilometers, we were traveling on Ujjain – Ahmedabad road. Then we took diversion to join NH 79 to Ratlam. We actually lost our way and the next 40 kilometers were thru the villages on a single lane. Every kilometer of run was dotted with buffaloes, goats, tractors, and other numerous village travelers.
As we joined NH 79, we experienced some of the worst roads on this entire trip. And if that was not stressful enough, we were hungry and any good dhaba or restaurant remained elusive till Songara (some 15 kilometers after Ratlam). We had our lunch at 6:00 pm.
My son saw me cleaning the glass and he too wanted to try his hand at it.
We continued our journey and crossed Mandsaur at 9:25 pm. And at 10:45 pm we reached Lassi Makhan Wale Ka Dhaba. Now this dhaba is special. I had the best food on this entire trip at this dhaba. At 10:45 pm, we had to wait for 15 minutes for a table. The Nimach city is just 10 kilometers from this dhaba and it looked like the whole city was dining at this dhaba. In my quest to satisfy my hunger and post dinner ecstasy, I forgot to take any pictures of this dhaba.
The road from Nimach to Chittaur is relatively better than what we experienced till Nimach. We reached Nimbaheda (first village on Rajasthan side) at 12:05 am and Chittaur at 1:00 am. It took us almost 10 hours to cover 300 kilometer stretch with two 45 minute breaks – one for lunch and one for dinner. Because of the bad roads we averaged really badly.
200 kilometers, Chittaur to Ajmer was a breeze. Even the 25 kilometer stretch from Naseerabad to Ajmer (which is not on GQ and is two lanes) was awesome. We reached Ajmer at 3:10 am and retired for the day. This was the longest day as far as driving is concerned.
Day 6, 7, and 8 – 6th to 8th October 2008
Stay at Ajmer:
The stay at Ajmer was primarily engaged in offering seva at Mehdi Khola Mata Mahalakshmi temple. Apart from Navaratri Aarti, we had organized a huge Bhandara at the temple on 9th October (on Navam Navaratra). More than 5000 people took Prasad in a span of 5 hours. Some pictures of the Mehdi Khola Mata Mahalakshmi temple.
Day 9 – 9th October 2008
After 3 hectic days, 9th October was a relaxing morning. It was Vijayadashmi day. We were to leave for Chittaur and rest of my family from Ahmedabad were to join us at Chittaur. They had left Ahmedabad at 6:00 am and so I had enough slack time to reach Chittaur. I got a call at 1:00 pm from my younger brother that they are reaching Udaipur. At this time we decided to say our good byes to the folks in Ajmer and leave for Chittaur.
Aravali Hills as seen from Ajmer – Naseerabad road
To be continued…
|15th February 2009, 11:32||#30|
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Palakkad, Keral
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Lovely Travalogue and pictures to add flavor to the narration. Keep them coming, hope it would be speeded up now.
Reminds me of my visit to some of the places you have touched.
Thanks for sharing,
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